Look at the spirits bottles in most bars in the world and the chances are that many will come from Diageo. The company sees itself as a bellwether not just for the management of some of the world’s leading spirits brands but environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
The international giant with brands as diverse as the top-selling tequila Don Julio, Baileys in liquor, Smirnoff in vodka and Guinness the world’s number one selling stout has announced the completion of the majority of its 2020 sustainability and responsibility goals.
The 2020 targets, which aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, were designed to cover three of the company’s objectives:
- reducing environmental impact,
- building thriving communities and
- promoting positive drinking.
The 2020 targets were originally set in 2008 and refreshed seven years later in 2015. In addition to halving its greenhouse gas emissions manufacturing and distribution operations, the company improved its water efficiency by 40% and accomplished zero waste to landfill at all production sites and offices.
The maker of Johnnie Walker whisky, Smirnoff vodka and Stitzel Weller bourbon has also reduced emissions by over a third across its total value chain which is beyond its original 30% target.
In India, the company has committed itself to a programme to encourage the inclusion and equal participation of women. The company says it is committed to empowering women across all socio-economic profiles, particularly in the developing world and in India where women make up only 24-29% of the workforce, among the lowest in the world. “Empowering one woman through education and learning means she will benefit four more around her, something which is known as the multiplier effect” says Diageo. The programmes are targeted at women and adolescent girls particularly those living in the communities around its Indian manufacturing plants, “to provide them with employable skills training to enhance their livelihoods and augment their economic empowerment”.
Other achievements include replenishing 100% of the water used in final products in water-stressed areas and supporting more than 250.000 people through its projects focused on clean water, sanitation and hygiene in 2020.
The company figures are impressive. More than 99,5% of its packaging is recyclable while approaching half of its packaging is made from recycled content. In June, it announced the creation of the first-ever 100% plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle, which is set to debut with Johnnie Walker whisky in early 2021.
At its new Kentucky whiskey distillery, which will distil Bulleit, is expected to be carbon neutral, one of the largest in North America, and a first for Diageo. The site will be powered by 100% renewable electricity, with a capacity to produce up to 10 million proof U.S. gallons per year. The site will use a mix of renewable electricity sources to power its massive 7.000 square metre distillery, dry house, and warehousing facilities. According to the company, its carbon-neutral measures are the equivalent of taking more than 25.000 cars off the road for an entire year.
Ewan Andrew, Chief Sustainability Officer of Diageo, said: “As we close our 2020 targets, we are incredibly proud of the progress we have made and grateful to our employees and selected partners who have helped us deliver transformational progress. “We are excited about the decade of action ahead and will continue to lead the way, driven by the knowledge that our future success is intertwined with the success of the living planet around us.”